I’m not going to lie, photographer, Glen Luchford’s, name wasn’t in my style vocab. until he teamed up with Alessandro Michele for the recent maximalist makeover at Gucci.
Left - Making minimalism sexy in Prada's 1997 campaign
When you don’t read glossy magazines, anymore, it becomes more difficult to learn and credit the images with the photographer, even though he’s been working way before the digital revolution.
It turns out the British-born photographer produced one of my favourite images of the 90s. Model, Amber Valletta, slouched in a boat for Prada's 1997 AW campaign was a seminal image. It heralded the start of minimalism. A new sexy and seductive minimalism and the start of Prada entering the pantheon of luxury brands.
I remember seeing it take up a full double-page spread of the broadsheet newspaper I was reading at the time and it was part of my awakening to fashion and the power of fashion images. It was the end of 1997 and luxury fashion was on the cusp of reaching into the mainstream of people’s lives and this image seemed to define the introverted sexuality of the time.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and Luchford has gone to the other end of the fashion spectrum by teaming up with Gucci’s new Creative Director and giving the great clothes Gucci are producing the life and context needed to really lose yourself in the OTT images.
Right - Tom Hiddleston in the latest AW16 Gucci Tailoring campaign
Each campaign has continued to develop the Gucci fantasy of symbols, colour, print and geek-chic sophistication. From peacocks to flamingos to chickens to Afghan hounds, Luchford’s images are a menagerie of people and interiors too. This is the age of dress-up: a clashing of influences and inspiration, Luchford's campaigns are a lesson in richness while feeling light and not being the sole preserve of money, but an eccentricity in taste.
In the age of Instagram, producing images that make you stop and pause is getting harder and harder. It helps that I like the clothes, yes, but these images are really defining this moment in fashion and style.
Below - Shot at Chatsworth and starring actress, Vanessa Redgrave, the new Cruise 17 Gucci campaign
The new Cruise campaign - below - has a Pre-Raphaelite busyness that would satisfy the most fussy of kleptomaniac Victorians. And, this brings us full circle to the Prada image - above - even though the time was 90s minimalism it could have just as easily been inspired by Millais' Ophelia or Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot. It's not just beautiful, it's also clever.
Prada was once one of the coolest brands. Twice a year, I’d eagerly await each Milan show for that sophisticated yet intellectual take on beautiful men’s clothes. They’d always be something new and clever, which sometimes took a couple of months to sink in, and defined this intelligent type of dressing.
Unfortunately, not everything lasts and this has disappeared from the label which hasn’t been updating as quickly as they used to. It’s like Miuccia has left the building, but then maybe that’s what happens when you become a fashion billionaire?
Anyway, they’ve realised that in order to slow their drop in sales they need to get online and they’ve just gone on to MRPORTER.COM. This cardigan is a standout for all it’s ‘children’s-tv-presenter-rainbow-realness’. It’s something a crazed aunt would knit for you as a child and something that would quickly become your favourite and return to year-after-year. It's hand-knitted in Italy from Shetland wool and is basically a smile in a cardigan.
Left & Below - Prada - Intarsia Shetland Wool Cardigan - £1130
Italians do it better. This seems to be the theme coming out of Milan fashion week where the Italians have taken the bull by the horns and produced some of the best menswear we’ve seen from them in a long time. You may as well go down in style!
Here are TheChicGeek’s trend highlights:
Think avocado and prawn cocktail sauce.
From Left - Gucci, Bally, Gucci
The seventies got a refresh and contemporary update. Chevrons were the order of the day.
From Far Left - Neil Barrett, Fendi, Dsquared2, Neil Barrett
(See TheChicGeek meet Neil Barrett just before this collection - here)
Knowing Fendi this is probably made from kittens. Get the robe out of the spa and take it to the street.
More bleach. It's one way of cleaning your clothes. (See how London did it - here)
From Left - Gucci, Dsquared2, MSGM, Bally
The most stylish men are always prepared. Now get over prepared!
From Left - Moncler Gamme Bleu, Ferragamo, Prada, Ferragamo
Nobody dresses up anymore, said no one, ever. It's time to get imaginative and experiment with new shapes including ruffles and tails.
From Left - Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci
Jazz, great! From literal at Dolce to art-deco Marcel waves at Fendi. I thought I'd throw a painting from the era by British artist Duncan Grant for additional inspiration.
From Left - Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Missoni, Fendi, Ralph Lauren
Rediscover your waist. Suck it in and stick a letter on it.
Left - Bally
Nobody does narcissism like the Italians!
Below - Giorgio Armani
I have a new found respect for Neil Barrett’s work after meeting him. While he’s never produced ‘look-at-me-internet-attention' grabbing clothes, he does enough to move his brand on, each and every season, and was a pioneer of the ‘athleisure’ trend which has filtered into the various echelons of menswear.
Left - Neil Barrett & his new 'Muse'!
I didn’t fully appreciate his designs until I saw them in the display which is currently on in Harvey Nichols new #Project109 menswear exhibition space. This are designs which could be easily dismissed as simple or minimal, but on closer inspection there's a hell of a lot more going on.
Harvey Nichols has asked Neil to look at his archive and display and reproduce favourite pieces from his collections from the past ten years. He says he saves every look from each of the four collections he produces every year, so that’s some serious storage facility.
After working for Gucci, Prada and establishing his own eponymous brand in 1999, he continued the minimal menswear aesthetic, but more recently started to introduce signature Barrett designs such as the chevron sweatshirt and lightning bolt.
‘ORIGINALS: Vol #1’ is a re-edition of 12 original designs, including the iconic buffalo jackets, leather-detailed coats and T-Shirts, jacquard suiting, colour-blocked shirts, and the double-bonded sweatshirts.
About to show his SS17 collection in Milan, Neil said he was inspired by his childhood in the 1970s in Devon, so the shapes and colours of items relate to items he used to wear then, but reimagined for now with his same attention to detail, design and modern fabrics.
Go visit - Harvey Nichols Project 109
Below - An example of the exhibit from Neil Barrett's archive
If you’re bored of Prada you could do very well to look at new brand UTC00. Founded by four worldwide creatives, UTC00 is a truly global accessories brand with an aesthetic that spans continents. Named after Coordinated Universal Time, abbreviated as UTC, a slightly more scientific version of Greenwich Mean Time, UTC00 is Greenwich and they use these different times, plus or minus, to regulate all meeting up and developing the brand.
From Milan, Seoul and London, they know their travel and have developed luxury accessories to suit. The colours are bold yet masculine and the quality details are streamlined for practicality. The majority of the materials, trims, hardware, and other components are custom developed and produced for UTC00. It brings to mind early Prada and the famous nylon rucksack and with prices of around £120 for a bum bag and £210 for a rucksack, it is premium but without the designer mark-up.
Milan is home to many of fashion's megabrands. This powerhouse is full of the commercial sex appeal we've come to expect from the home of Italian fashion. TheChicGeek casts his expert eye over the details and trends worth coveting:
It could have something to do with the recent MET exhibition in New York, or simply the cycle of Chinese influence is coming around for another season, but look out for Mao collars and delicate Chinese decoration in relaxed, voluminous shapes.
From Left - Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana
Step straight out of bed, or straight in, depending on timings, with the new dressing gown type coats and pyjama shirts.
Below - Both - Bally
No, you're not seeing things. Colour and pattern are stylishly distorted to make the wearer standout while confusingly blending in.
From Left - Salvatore Ferragamo, Salvatore Ferragamo, MGSM
Call it ethnic or ASOS!, everything is untucked and in a longer length. Just be careful when wearing with shorts.
Below - Both - Versace
Comfort seems to be the key for technical fabrics today: a new ease of movement and travel focused.
From Left - Jil Sander, Prada
Shake that money maker! The money spinner for the majority of major fashion brands, it appears on the catwalk in recognition of the part it has played in creating these brands and the fashion landscape today.
From Left - Calvin Klein, Ports 1961, Calvin Klein, Ports 1961
Not so much Hitchcock as Attenborough with parrots to hummingbirds seen on the chests of menswear from Milan.
From Left - Gucci, Ports 1961, Dolce & Gabbana
I can see right through this trend which was first seen in London.
From Left - No.21, Gucci, Gucci
Just because - The new Gucci is slightly mental - good mental - in a Fight Club meets Peter Sellers kinda way. Love this dressing up box style.
Left - Gucci